Wood aged Ports are those which age entirely in cask or vat and are ready to drink when they are bottled. The port institute which regulates production specifies that the designated styles are 10, 20, 30 and 40 Year Old Tawny Ports.
The mellow, complex style of wood aged Port is due too ageing in small oak casks, generally holding about 630 litres. In a cask there is a relatively small volume of wine compared to the surface area of the vessel, so contact with the wood is proportionately greater. As it matures in cask, a Port gradually loses the deep red 'ruby' colour of youth and takes on the seductive amber hue known as 'tawny'. At the same time the wine becomes progressively smoother and mellower, its aromas gaining in richness and complexity.
As a tawny port spends more time in oak, its color starts to fade from ruby red to more ruby-orange or a "brick red," often reaching a deep amber or mahogany color by the time it's matured. As the aging process continues, a Tawny's taste will become nuttier and the flavors develop the rich flavors of caramelized figs, dates and prunes compared to the fresh fruit factors found in a Ruby Port.
On the label, the age is most commonly designated as 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. These year designations are approximately the average compilation of various vintages used in the Tawny Port blend, not the exact years the wine has been aged as a whole. The situation is a littlemore complex in that the Governing body IVDP tends to categorise them along the following lines.
A bit more developed than Tawny Reserve, this is a very similar wine but with the added assurance that it bears the characteristics of a ten years old Port.10 Year Tawny Port Wine Page and Offers
With colours ranging from a reddish to golden Tawny, these exceptional wines are full of fruit and their flavours are more developed and concentrated due to the fact that the wine was aged in small oak casks. The extremely intense aromas and flavours are reminiscent of toasted vanilla and dried fruits, with delicate hints of oak.20 Year Tawny Port Wine Page and Offers
Certain Ports are set aside to age longer in wood. The gradual exposure to air concentrates and intensifies the original fruit of these wines, creating more complex characteristics where honey and spices are touched with deep aromas of dry peaches, hazelnuts and vanilla.30 Year Tawny Port Wine Page and Offers
This classification is given to the oldest Tawny Ports, wines that are marvellously concentrated and complex. Intense, they all but explode in the mouth, filling your palate with aromatic flavours that will astound your senses.40 Year Tawny Port Wine Page and Offers Return to General Port Wine Page